Contractor InteriorExterior has lost its managing director less than a year after he took over the post from founding director Ivan Millar

John Knight left the firm last week, having been on extended leave since October. He will be replaced by Steve Trotter, who has been acting managing director during Knight’s absence.

David King, chief executive of the firm’s parent firm Interior Services Group, said that Knight’s departure was because of personal reasons. King said: “People go through life-changing moments. He had personal issues and rethought what he wanted to do.”

King denied there was any clash between him and Knight. He said:

“I chose him to do the job. I was a big supporter of his. This came as a surprise to me.”

King said he expected Knight to join a client body. He added: “John was firmly of the view that he was not going to any competitor.”

King did not deny the firm had looked at external candidates for Knight’s post but emphasised that Trotter was the right man for the job. It is understood that candidates considered included former Schal managing director Malcolm Bairstow, who is now a partner at accountant Ernst & Young.

King said: “Everybody conducts risk management. My job is to make sure all eventualities are covered. Steve fulfilled the role very well when he was acting managing director. I am happy to confirm his permanent appointment.”

John Knight had personal issues and rethought what he wanted to do

David King, ISG chief executive

Knight took up the post last June after the retirement of Millar, who ran InteriorExterior for five years.

Following Trotter’s promotion, his former role as head of the firm’s new-build division has been taken on by director John Ness.

King said conditions for the alternative investment market-listed firm were healthy.

He said: “The marketplace has turned a corner. There is more developer work and more new-build as well. There are initial signs of a strengthening of the fit-out market.”

InteriorExterior is due to release its results for the half year to 31 December 2004 next month.

King added that the firm was aiming to grow more in the regions, particularly in Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham.